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An Open Letter to Baby Boomers From a Gen-X’er

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I belong to the generation known as ‘Generation X.’ Nobody really talks about us- mostly they just talk about Baby Boomers or Millennials. We’re kind of like the middle child that everyone has forgotten. Just there, just silently existing.

My generation were latchkey kids and maybe that’s why nobody talks about us. Our parents were new to the whole latchkey thing and so the guilt of not being around when we got out of school hadn’t really sunk in yet. We took care of ourselves and our siblings like pros. Doing our homework and then making dinner so our family could eat together when our parents got home, exhausted, from work was no biggie. We weren’t babied. We just got things done. And we still do.

However, Generation X has something huge in common with the Millennial generation. Despite the belief that so many Baby Boomers hold on to, getting ahead these days isn’t all that easy.

I was talking to a Baby Boomer not long ago about why my husband and I haven’t bought a house yet and she was really laying on the pressure in what felt like a really judgmental way.  I was trying to explain that it not because we’re irresponsible or lazy. It’s just that we need a substantial amount of money for a down-payment and every time we tuck away a good chunk of change, unexpected and emergency bills slam us. Hard. She said we didn’t really need a lot of money and kind of huffed when she commented that putting down a small payment would only mean our mortgage would be higher- as if it weren’t a big deal and we were morons for not considering that option.

But it is a big deal, and my husband and I have considered it.

The fact is that the world we live in isn’t a stable one. There’s no doubt that it doesn’t even touch the instability that the depression years saw, but for the most part, our parents and grandparents were pretty much guaranteed to retire from the same job they started at fresh out of college, and with a sweet pension. Not us. We’re lucky if we get to be employed at the same place for five consecutive years. And it’s not because we’re horrible slackers- it’s because of budget cuts and restructuring. We don’t want to set ourselves up to have a high mortgage because we don’t know if we’ll have a job tomorrow. And let’s not even get into how hard it is to find a job once you’re back on the job market. Also, the housing market crash from a couple years ago still terrifies us. We watched people we care about lose everything. The thought of that happening to us is terrifying, and so we’re gun shy.

Additionally, a good majority of us who belong to the Gen X and Millennial generations are working more hours, for way less pay, in a world where the cost of everything is obscenely inflated. We’re making the same pay we were 10 years ago (meanwhile, our CEOs are pocketing bonuses in the millions of dollars) and yet the price of everyday items has skyrocketed and are nearly as expensive now as they were when the housing market crashed a couple of years ago. A gallon of milk was $2.65 in 2008 (at the height of the housing market crash). In 2016, a gallon of milk averaged $3.98. It might not seem like much, but you can bet that $1.33 adds up. And that’s just milk.

Another friend who’s also a product of the Baby Boomer generation and tells me all the time that the answer to financial woes in those younger than her is hard work. Absolutely, it is. But here’s the sobering reality- sometimes hard work still isn’t enough. We’re finding that the harder we work, the more money we make, and the less we actually bring home because of insane taxes. It certainly feels as though we live in a world where taxes are suffocating any chance we have at building a nest egg.

We live in a world where most Gen Xers and Millennials work full-time during the week and have a part-time job on the weekends and that’s simply to provide a roof and food. Not so we can live frivolously. We’ve watched the mistakes our parents made and trust us, we’re fighting back against going down the same path.

I absolutely detest when someone implies that my generation and the ones below are lazy. Why? Because we use technology? If anything, our technology makes us more efficient so that we’re able to zip through things and move on to the next. We can use a computer program to draw plans in a fraction of the time it took my father, who was an old school draftsman, to draw everything by hand. The downside is that because we’re able to breeze through things faster, more work is heaped onto our plates. And we’re starting to burn out.

The ‘Leave It To Beaver’ type days no longer exist. Do we wish they’d return? Sometimes. I mean, we like how things aren’t as rigid when it comes to how we dress, and acceptance of those different than us. And, we really like our technology, but we do wish for stability. In our home lives, at work, and financially. We also wish that we could shut off from the world, from work sometimes just to give our minds and bodies a chance to recharge. For that to happen, though, there has to be a major change across the board. We have to get back to the basics of humanity. Where compassion and understanding are more prevalent than the desire for a dollar. Where people realize that if they want to get the best out of others, they have to treat them as humans, not robots. Sadly, I don’t know that we’ll ever get back there again.

I didn’t really realize how big some of the differences are between my generation and the one directly below me until I watched this video which was made by a Millennial, and she makes some very valid points.

If you’ve ever wondered exactly what the differences are between the various generations, this should do a good job answering any questions you might have and show how it really is possible for us to all get along.

We All Want to Be Young from Box1824 on Vimeo.

[via The People History/Matt Corker]

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